- Greek literature, especially epic, tragedy, and comedy
- Women and gender in Antiquity
- The reception of classical drama
Professor Foley graduated from Swarthmore College (1964), received an MAT in English (1966) and an MA in Classics (1967) from Yale University and a PHD in Classical Philology from Harvard University (1975). She moved from Stanford University to Barnard in 1979. She has also taught as a visiting professor at Dartmouth, New York University, and Berkeley. She has served as president of the American Philological Association in 1998 and was Sather Professor of Classics at Berkeley in Spring 2008.
She is the author of Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides, Cornell University Press, 1985; The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Princeton University Press, 1994; Women in the Classical World: Image and Text, co-authored with Elaine Fantham, Natalie Kampen, Sarah Pomeroy, and Alan Shapiro, Oxford University Press, 1994; Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (=Martin Classical Lectures 1995), Princeton University Press, 2001; and Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage, University of California Press, 2012. She is editor of Reflections of Women in Antiquity, Gordon and Breach, 1981,co-editor of Visualizing the Tragic, Oxford University Press, 2007 and of Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage, Oxford University Press 2011.
She is currently finishing a book on Euripides' Hecuba, coordinating an issue of the Proceedings of the Modern Language Association with Jean Howard on Tragedy, and working on tragic choruses.
Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage. University of California Press, 2012.
Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature (ed. with C. Kraus, S. Goldhill, and J. Elsner). Oxford UP, 2007.
Female Acts in Greek Tragedy. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2002.
Women in the Classical World: Image and Text (with Elaine Fantham, Natalie Kampen, Sarah Pomeroy, and H.A. Shapiro). Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.
Reflections of Women in Antiquity. Routledge, 1992.
Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides. Cornell UP, 1985.